Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Waiting for the OFW vote
UAE's Khaleej Times has a short feature on the Philippine labor diaspora, and it reminds one of the gory details of our economy's masssive failure to generate jobs:

The Foreign Department reports that as of December 2003, there were 5,345,700 Filipinos documented as working abroad, with over half a million more working illegally.

The article points out that the OFWs are, in a way, fashioning the country's middle class, and a consolidation of their inchoate political power can reinvent--perhaps temper-- the country's elite dominance.

The OFWs indeed have the potential to reinvent the political terrain, but they didn't take to overseas voting that well. If I remember correctly, there were about only 300,000 Filipino OFWS who registered to vote abroad, a trickle by any standard, dismally insufficient to tilt the balance of power in a national election. We would have to wait for another election other than the coming one in May to see if there would emerge an OFW vote.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Web prowl
The Beijing Review reports on the burgeoning expat communities in China. For those who are philosophically inclined, papers from the recently concluded Columbia/NYU graduate Conference in Philosophy are now available online. Michael Dirda of the Washington Post has a short review essay of a biography of the pianist Glenn Gould, celestially famous for his Bach's Goldberg Variations.

Edited by Anandam P. Kavoori and Noah Arceneaux
Dept of Telecommunications
Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication
The University of Georgia, Athens, Ga 30602

The Cell phone presents itself at the periphery of contemporary discourse about media and culture. TV cops use it as they rush to crime scenes, teenagers use it to connect with their peers, terrorists are traced through calls made on their cell phones, extra-marital affairs draw sustenance from them. Such images, however, do not do justice to the central role that cell phones have begun to play in contemporary society. Cell phones lack the hype of the Internet but are fast approaching the cultural impact of a mass medium. They have begun to shape how we communicate; their use has created new forms of media-centered relations; and in the marketplace they have begun to influence patterns of media ownership and acquisition. In the developing world ­the cell phone is often the first phone for the urban poor. In their intersection with other technologies­text messaging, the World Wide Web and digital photography/video­Cell phones have changed how we look at an omnipresent cultural technology­the “telephonee.

This edited book seeks papers that examines three overarching issues­History, Technology and Culture-- as they relate to the Cell Phone. Papers from all theoretical (social scientific, cultural, critical, ethnographic, historical) perspectives are welcome. Of special interest are papers dealing with the impact of the Cell Phone in the developing
world and with issues of identity politics­race, gender, ethnicity and sexuality.

Papers may address one or more of these questions. These are suggested research questions, not a complete template. You may wish to add to these.

When did Cell Phones develop into a mass medium? What are the economic, political and institutional factors that have had a major impact on the Cell phone industry? What has been the relation between the history of the Internet and the Cell Phone? What is the future of the Cell Phone as compared to the history of other media technologies? What has been the trajectory of Cell Phone use in the developing world as compared to the West?

What is the technology of the Cell Phone? How did it evolve and intersect with other media technologies (Internet, Phone, Web, Texting)? How have the design and architecture of Cell phones (size, texture, features, color) influenced their growth? What are the current technological limits and possibilities of the Cell Phone? How might Cell Phone technologies grow and change in the next decade? How has it impacted minority cultures and the developing world?

What are the shifts in cultural sensibility that the Cell phone represents? What kinds of normative and interactive models for communication does the Cell phone represent? What forms of mass mediated relationships and Identity politics does the Cell Phone configure? How do the aesthetics of Cell phones impact behavior--especially youth and business culture? How have Cell phones changed the structuring of daily life? How do cell phones intersect with issues with issues of identity-politics, especially those of race, gender and sexuality. What future impact can the Cell phone have as it merges with web and other technologies? What is the impact of the cell phone in developing countries? With changing Geo- politics?

The deadline for paper abstracts is September 1, 2004.

Please send your queries via email to the corresponding editor, Noah Arceneaux at or via mail to Dr. Anandam P. Kavoori, Associate Professor, Dept of
Telecommunications, Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Noam Chomsky has started his own blog, while I wonder what happened to Bill Clinton's plan to put up his own last year. Perhaps he could not choose among the possible titles of the blog, some of those suggested were: Oral Issues, Where's Monica, The Meaning of Is, Wag the Blog, The View from Under the Desk.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Silent plague
While more and more young people are taking the habit of smoking, 75 tubercular Filipinos die everyday. Manila Times reports that the Philippines is the eight in the world with the most cases of tuberculosis.

I suspect the situation is even worse. Almost every month I buy a bottle of supplements ( to prolong my corporeal existence before I join the Dark Side), and almost each time I am at the drugstore there is someone beside me buying TB prescription: isoniazid, rifampicin, pyrazinamide, ethambutol etc. (I know I should not but I always cannot help looking over the shoulder of people buying prescription drugs; it's my vice.)

One friend who is a social worker in Tondo also told me that in their medical aid missions, a disproportionately large amount of cases involves TB. The tubercular people's medications in Tondo also have to be personally supervised that they take the proper dosage because, according to her, most people simply re-sell their drugs once the primary TB symptoms subside without completing the six-month complete medication.

One matrona lady at St Luke's was also threatening to sue her doctor for medical malpractice, alleging that the doctor gave her TB shots. The lady could not fathom, for the life of her, how she could have possibly gotten the disease, unless the allergy shots she received from her doctor carried the bacteria. After great investigation and medical soul-searching, it turned out that that patient's septuagenarian mother has TB. She therefore got it from her mother.

The above incident is disturbing because it means that in some households TB is already present but is unrecognized despite consulations with doctors.

How could the patients be so uninformed ? Because most doctors are so delicate that they seldom have the heart, especially with TB cases, to be matter-of-factly when dealing with clients. Doctors will show the X-ray and simply issue prescriptions, and that's all about it--sometimes not even an advice to cut down on smoking.

TB severely strains our labor force as TB is wont to attack people at their prime earning capacity (40-65). It also severely drains the income of many Filipino households.

TB is a plague, and we all wallow in ignorance about its perniciousness.
Privatizing irresponsibility
The government and the Maynilad are denying it ardently with all the corporate poker face they can muster, but as this BusinessWorld story confirms, the long and short of the deal is that the Lopez group is ipso facto relieved of its debt burden:

In Amendment No. 2 to the concession agreement, a copy of which was obtained by BusinessWorld, the state-run Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) effectively released Benpres Holdings Corp. from its commitment to guarantee payment of at least $47 million in Maynilad debts in case of default.

Under the proposed bridge banks term sheet, or Annex F-1 of Amendment No. 2, the new Maynilad shareholders will pay $39 million of the $47 million in seven years at concessional rates of between 1% and 3% over prevailing interest rates. The $8 million will paid within a year at 1% over prevailing rates.

"If these terms are not acceptable to any or all of the bridge banks, then payments to non-accepting banks shall be held by Maynilad in trust for ... Benpres if any or all non-accepting bridge banks recover from Benpres pursuant to Benpres' guarantee," the proposed term sheet provides.

The deal is therefore a bailout in whatever Wittgenstein language game. The people must have water, especially during elections, and at the same time the Lopezes must not lose money. How to reconcile the two? Bill the republic.

The government cannot help but bail out this particular market failure courtesy of Kapamilya because 1) the Lopezes have a humungous clout and, more importantly 2) Maynilad's clients cannot biologically afford to live without water.

This controversy should force us to rethink the wisdom of privatizing utilities in the first place.

The expressed motive for privatization of the utilities--and privatization, in general-- is increased economic inefficiency, with the extension of private ownership and market relations seen as the means to achieve that end. And in most cases, the logic of privatization holds.

Private businessmen, goaded by their rational desire for profits, run businesses more smoothly, efficiently and effectively than government bureaucrats. And with businessmen competing with each other, the result, the logic of privatization holds, is lower rates for better sevices for the consumers. With privatization, Thomas Borcherding's "Bureacratic Rule of Two", "Removal of an activity from the private to the public sector wiil double its unit cost of production," is supposed to be reversed.

So what went wrong in this privatization of Maynilad?

The water distribution was privatized alright, but the government monopolist agency was simply replaced by another monopolist private agent in the private sector. The privatization in this case did not lead to efficiency. What in effect happened was a privatization of irresponsibility. The element of healthy business competition that directs Adam Smith's invisible hand, was not there.

Maynilad has no competitors in the area; there is no other competitor to deliver service if Maynilad were to self-destruct. Public interest therefore, especially in the summer time, cannot allow Maynilad to fail because otherwise the people would simply die of dehydration. Thus, we have the bailout.

There are two other disturbing things about the bailout:

1) Apparently even after the government bails out Maynilad, it would not acquire direct management of the corporation. Exactly who will control Maynilad after the bailout remains a secret.

2) The partner of Benpres, the French water management firm Ondeo Services, cannot help but cry foul because it has already honored some of its Maynilad guarantees. The bailout would free the Lopezes from obligations but, "under the compromise deal, Ondeo will still be required to honor its outstanding guarantees on Maynilad's debts. These obligations include an undertaking to pay the $50 million that MWSS will draw next month from the performance to partly answer for PhP8 billion in unpaid concession fees."

The bailout gives capitalism a bad rentseeking name in this country. Abroad, it gives us a repuation for being bad business partners.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Pramoedya Ananta Toer, No Night Market:
Then the Chinese said with his eyes fixed on a broken roof tile, "Why does anyone of us have to die alone? Be born alone? And live alone in a world full of people? And when we love someone and they love us--," he knelt and peered through the door to father's solitary body, "as our late friend did, for instance, why do we have to part with them in death? Alone. Alone. Alone. Born alone. One person. Then another. Why can't we be born together and die together? I wish the world was as warm, noisy and bright as the night market is."

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

CSSP Campaign for Resources
The UP College of Social Sciences and Philosophy is having a fund drive for several projects it is undertaking. Rich and generous alumni are requested to contribute. Click here for the details on how to make a gift.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Miriam strikes again
Miriam Defensor Santiago is blasting Boots Anson-Roa and Amina Rasul for filing a meritless petition to declare GMA as resigned before the Supreme Court. She said Rasul and Roa should be jailed instead so they could at least read more about the Penal Code.

There is simply no one to match Miriam's katarayan, not even GMA's. I remember when Miriam showed her legs on TV and said they were more shapely than a certain man's she was jousting then ( I cannnot remember the name of that official.)

I know not a few people look forward to seeing Pilar Pilapil in the Senate. Imagine how things would turn out if Pilar Pilapil were to be elected senator and engage her fellow Bisaya Miriam in a bout of invective hurling. Now that is what we would call first-class political entertainment.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

The Philippine ruling class
The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism invites you to the launching of

How the Wealthy and Well-born Dominate Congress

and The Ties that Bind CD-ROM

24 March 2004, 5 p.m.
Balay Kalinaw, U.P. Diliman
Quezon City

---------------[ About the Book )------

The Rulemakers
How the Wealthy and Well-born Dominate Congress

by Sheila S. Coronel, Yvonne T. Chua, Luz Rimban, and Booma B. Cruz

THIS book tells the story of the Philippine legislature by examining the men and women who make up that body. It looks at their demographic characteristics (age, gender, education, profession), their assets and sources of wealth, and also their family lineage.

What we found was troubling, but hardly new: Philippine legislators constitute a select and exclusive segment of society. They are richer, older, better educated, and better connected than the rest of us. The great majority of them are also part of families whose members have been in public office for two or more generations.

This book also shows how lawmakers have employed their powers to further enrich themselves and entrench their families in power. The powers to make laws, to conduct legislative inquiries, to examine the national budget, and to vet presidential appointments have been used by legislators to get benefits for themselves, their allies, and their kin.

Book: P450
CD-ROM: P250
Book and CD-ROM package launching price: P540.00

Saturday, March 20, 2004

The mystery of the Easter Island
Speculators believe the giant statues were sculpted by aliens stranded on earth. Now my own curiosity can rest: Jared Diamond explains in a review essay for the New York Review of Books that the statues were actually made by real people paying homage to their chiefs. Diamond points out that Easter Island was once a rainforest, where the long ropes used to haul the statues came from.

The island suffered massive deforestation sometime in the sixteenth century as the different clans one-upped each other in building the more garish and bigger statues. Because of the deforestation and the concomitant decline in the animal species in the island, islanders practiced cannibalism for lack of food.

No tree remains on Easter Island today:

The overall picture for Easter is the most extreme example of forest destruction in the Pacific, and among the most extreme in the world: the whole forest gone, and all of its tree species extinct. Immediate consequences for the islanders were losses of raw materials, losses of wild-caught foods, and decreased crop yields.

Diamond also writes how the Easter Island crisis serves as a caveat for the rest of us of how a society can be torn apart by environmental degradation:

The Easter Islanders' isolation probably also explains why their collapse, more, perhaps, than the collapse of any other pre-industrial society, haunts readers and visitors today. The parallels between Easter Island and the modern world are chillingly obvious. Thanks to globalization, international trade, jet planes, and the Internet, all countries on Earth today share resources and affect each other, just as did Easter's eleven clans. Polynesian Easter Island was as isolated in the Pacific Ocean as the Earth is today in space. When the Easter Islanders got into difficulties, there was nowhere to which they could flee, or to which they could turn for help; nor shall we modern Earthlings have recourse elsewhere if our troubles increase. Those are the reasons why people see the collapse of Easter Island society as a metaphor, a worst-case scenario, for what may lie ahead of us in our own future.
The return of the GI babies ?
UP Prof. Carolina Hernandez made some remarks yesterday about the need to have US bases again to bolster the nation's security, notwithstanding the rap that Spain got for its support for the US.

The reports by the Businessworld and the Manila Times yesterday were short and did not say whether the remarks were part of a formal talk or were merely offhand comments. Today though took Prof Hernandez to task and made a stinging shooting down of the idea.

Personally, I, too, don't see how the US bases could possibly help in countering terrorism. As Today pointed out, the US bases would only make us a hot spot, a la Spain, to be targeted and punished for our support in propping up the Great Satan.

Terrorist attacks are not deterred by great firepower. Otherwise nobody would have dared touch New York, bastion of the greatest military power known to mankind.

Terrorist attacks are characterized by stealth carried out by a handful of personnel. Cold War deterrence no longer works. What we need is a greater capability to do intelligence work--and in this aspect the Americans are pathetically ill-equipped and are in no position to lecture their Filipino counterparts.

What remains of our AFP admittedly needs reinforcement and training, but are not the Balikatan exercises enough for that ?

The bases that the US used before and left are yet to be cleaned up. Hundreds have gone sick; many have died of leukemia. The formers bases have put to risk the health security of not a few Filipinos. If it is security that the government and Prof Hernandez want, the more appropriate idea would be for pushing the Philippine government to sue at the International Court of Justice for the US to clean up the radioactive waste it left in its former bases.

THe US cleaned up its mess in Germany. Why not in the Philippines ?

We are too polite and unmercenenary in our dealings with the US; that is why we always get shortchanged. Western-trained mostly in US universities, our leaders are bad hagglers. Look at Turkey: they bled the Americans for every dollar, was initially rebuffed but was simply, the US later realized, too important to be left in the cold. We to, like Turkey, are simply too important the US cannot afford to ignore us. And besides if the US ignores us, we can always suck up to China. Let us see how the US State Department will deal with that.

The one thing nice about new US basing arrangements is that we would have more mestizas and mestizos to audition for Starstruck. The US bases, seen in this light, has more to do with psychic security than national security. On the other hand, do closer ties with China potentially mean more F4-like bands ? The Filipino people would be practically at the end of its wits were the debate on national secutiy ever to hit the mainstream.

Friday, March 19, 2004

On knowing when to quit and hit the road
Bill Moyers is quitting NOW after the US November elections. VP Guingona may be able to relate with Moyers's farewell open letter:

You don't want to quit altogether. You keep thinking of those lines from Tennyson's "Ulysses": How dull it is to pause, to make an end/ to rust unburnished, not to shine in use.

But slowing down is not quitting. And you also think about the legendary black pitcher Satchel Paige, who spent most of his career in what was then called the Negro Baseball League. By the time the racial barriers were relaxed, he was, as baseball measures the life span, an old man. That didn't stop him from doing the one thing he knew how to do well – he just kept on pitching, and pitching, and pitching.

When a reporter asked him, "How old are you?" He replied: "How old would you be if you didn't know how old you was?" One day, though, he found out, and even Satchel Paige handed the ball to a younger man and left the mound for good. Knowing when is the trick; timing is what counts.

Timing is what counts. Those who quit fast, died young are the people who loom large in the historical imagination: Jesus Christ, Alexander the Great, Evita Peron, Martin Luther King Jr, Cesare Borgia, Che Guevara. Emilio Aguinaldo arguably faded in Philippine history not so much because he betrayed Bonifacio but because he grew old and never died young, as all good historical figures should do. The astute Mahathir Mohamad understands this cardinal rule: if you want to secure a page in history better quit fast lest people get bored with you.
Job openings
ABC 5 is looking for news reporters. Submit your resume personally: 762 Quirino Highway, San Bartolome, Novaliches, Quezon City.

Frenzy is looking for 15 talents (aged 18-25). Text INTRSTD to 0917-8231111 to get a schedule for screening starting March 22.
Roco on family planning
I've seen Roco prevaricating and being evasive on the issue of family planning on Debate on Channel 7. ( Lacson, in contrast, is admirably straightforward in pushing for family planning using methods prohibited by the Catholic Church. )

I do not understand the need for Roco to be vague on this particular topic for fear of suffering a ballot backlash. Nobody--well, except perhaps the clergy and the Opus Dei--takes it against a presidential candidate tha fact that he supports artificial methods of curtailing the reproductive propensity of the populace. It is only among a few of our middle classes and the religious rich ( too minuscule a segment of our population to warrant attention) that being pro-life counts for something.

Let's face it: we are shy to directly tell it to our priests but, deep inside our sinful selves, we couldn't care less about the natural method. It is tedious and some people don't even have a pocket calendar.

The priests and the nuns are celibate. Just because they are non-reproductive doesn't mean we have to compensate for them. Roco should give a clear and determinate stand on the issue.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Lord of the Rings
BBC reports that The Lord of the Rings is being turned into a West End musical. The net is buzzing with suggestions for possible songs to be included in the musical:

1) ‘I’m gonna wash that orc right out of my hair’ (Legolas)

2) ‘You’re the One Ring that I want’ (Sauron in Act I, then Gollum in Act II, and Frodo, Gollum and Sauron in Act III)

3) ‘People will say we’re in love’ (Frodo/Sam duet, Act II, theme echoed by Gimli and Legolas during Battle of Pelennor Fields)

4) ‘City with the Tree on Top’ (Gandalf’s arrival at Minas Tirith)

5) ‘How do I solve this problem, my dear Grima?’ (Theoden introduction)

6) Gollum’s Act III showstopper, ‘Memorieses’.

7) Frodo to Gollum: 'I don't know how to club him.'

8) Where do we go from here? ( The final parting of the fellowship at the Grey Havens).

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Volunteer for NAMFREL
Click here for the Ateneo call for NAMFREL volunteers.
Web prowl
Wired magazine profiles Patrick Moore, Greenpeace co-founder-cum-eco traitor, whom former Greenpeace Director Paul Watson called "a corporate whore, an eco-Judas, a lowlife bottom-sucking parasite who has grown rich from sacrificing environmentalist principles for plain old money." The Hubble Space website offers the deepest portrait of the universe ever achieved by mankind. Read an excerpt of Chalmer Johnson's The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (New York: Metropolitan Books; and London: Verso).

Saturday, March 13, 2004

How could he?
Guingona has been lost to the Dark Side. He has joined the KNP and has given his support to FPJ's bid for the presidency.

In exchange, FPJ made Guingona an adviser. Perhaps realizing that his civil society friends would not look too kindly on this latest move, Guingona has resigned his civil society positions. Guingona explained his proselytization:

"I do so mainly because almost everyone agrees that the nation must change, that the socio-economic downturn must reverse, that jobs be generated, poverty uplifted, and the cauldron of corruption be stifled by example and a consistent system, not only to prevent but also to hold accountable those responsible, no matter how low or high they may be."

Guingona lost faith in GMA; there is no reason why the same thing should not happen with FPJ. It must be hard growing old with a broken heart.

Friday, March 12, 2004

The conservative Andrew Sullivan debates the conservative David Frum on the point of same-sex marriage. Also, here is a critique of Alan Dershowitz's case for torture.
Bad presidents
Tony Lopez, in his column essay provocatively entitled Set Erap Free, asks: Why do we have so many bad presidents? Why is it that only one has been imprisoned?

Yes, why indeed when all indications point to the conclusion that Estrada was hardly sui generis?

Because Estrada had the temerity to flaunt all standards of political decency. He was guilty of underestimating the political value of hypocrisy, which has served his predecessors and successors quite well.

Hypocrisy is very useful in a democracy. With hypocriisy, public officials don't get hauled off to jail, and the people don't get sleepless fidgeting and thinking about how abominable the government is. Estrada had to go not so much because he was corrupt but because he flaunted the values of our constitutional democracy so openly. Had he successfully hang on to office, those values would have lost significant hold on the consciousness of the young people who may someday assume public office themselves.

Our other officials are probably equally or more corrupt. But as a polity we can afford to ignore them because we do not quite know about their corruption for sure. We can give them the benefit of the doubt. With Estrada, however, the impeachment trial showed us almost every sordid detail (Edgardo Espiritu left out the smuggling part though). His betrayal of the public trust loomed large in the imagination of the nation; to ignore them would be tantamount to repudiating the values of a liberal democratic government that EDSA 1 secured.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Best films of 2003
The Film Desk of the Young Critics Circle

invites you to

the 14th Annual Circle Citations for Distinguished Achievement in Film for 2003 and Sine Sipat: Recasting Roles and Images—Stars, Awards and Criticism

Friday, 12 March 2004, 2 p.m.
Faculty Center Conference Hall
(Pulungang Recto, Bulwagang Rizal)
University of the Philippines
Roxas Avenue, UP Campus
Diliman, Quezon City

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Idealism is for old people too
I almost missed reading Conrado de Quiros's column yesterday, where he defended himself against the charges that he has grown cynical through the years. De Quiros writes:

Growing older is the best way to see that life isn't as easy as you first imagined. It certainly offers a different view from 52 years than it did from 22. None of that means resigning oneself to iniquity, or absurdity, or mediocrity. Which is something I've seen in many of my peers, whether or not they've joined government. The fact that life poses more adversity than you expected is a challenge to do more, it is not an excuse to do less. Certainly, it is not a reason to agree to less.

De Quiros further adds that: The day I stop being angry is the day I become truly cynical about this country.

A few readers I know have grown tired of reading De Quiros's rants and have chosen not to read his column, because they say it only makes them feel bad. They say De Quiros does not see the good things and writes only of the bad depressing things. He has, they say, grown cynical, in his rabid criticisms of the government. All I can say is that they should probably read Manila Bulletin's main editorial if they want to feel upbeat because in it nothing untoward ever happens; life as seen by Manila Bulletin is one long procession of anniversaries, celebrations and job opportunities.

De Quiros's column has legions of fans. Some people read the Inquirer editorial page only because De Quiros writes for it.(MLQ 3's new presence is now another reason). I read his column even if it does make me feel a little despondent sometimes. Why should we not be depressed? We live in a shitty country; De Quiros's column is simply mirroring the gravity of our times.

The late US Senator William Fulbright is, I believe, the authority on this subject of political dissent and criticism. In The Arrogance of Power, Fulbright wrote: "To criticize one's country is to do it a service and pay it a compliment." "It is a service because it may spur the country to do better than it is doing; it is a compliment because it evidences that the country can do better than it is doing....In a democracy. dissent is an act of faith."

De Quiros is neither cynical nor immaturely idealistic. He is simply being faithful to our democracy, which some people have found convenient to ignore on their way to growing up and being adult.
A touch of star quality
What if Evita Peron were to be reborn as the wife of a Philippine presidential candidate?

I was reading a story on Raul Roco’s daring the spouses of the presidential candidates to a debate when the above question hit me. I mulled over the appropriateness of the question for some time and I thought why not? We are coming close to electing an actor president for the second time and some sectors are worried that we may be heading toward a crisis similar to Argentina's. A little imagination, you see, can lead to the question. After all, Evita's battle cry was Spartacus's: " I will come back and I will be millions. . . !"

There have been germs of populism in our history, I think, but we never had someone like Evita to bring us populism in extremis.

Estrada, the closest to a populist president that we got, gorged on Petrus wine and popped Xenical to counter his gluttony. He had populist rhetoric, but he dropped it fast because he himself probably could not stomach his phoniness. Now, some supporters of FPJ are vaguely hinting on a class conflict when they refer to the elites and the middle classes' bias toward FPJ.

The success of Estrada, despite the virulent opposition of the Catholic Church and most of the upper classes, shows that we have a viable populist thread in our political culture that can be tapped to acquire power. FPJ hopes that the same populism buoy up his candidacy. Estrada and FPJ may like to sound and act populist, but they do not have the energy to sustain the charade.

Estrada, for example, dramatically opened Malacanang to people with requests and needs--for hospitalization,burial, tuition fees, etc. His staff entertained a long queu of people asking the president for help. But a stampede ensued and one died, and Estrada scrapped the whole idea altogether. Evita had the same long queus and, unlike Estrada, she personally was at the end of those queus granting the diverse requests of her descamisados. She entertained those queus as long as she was physically able to. Estrada's staff had one day of inconvenience and it decided to wrap up.

Exactly what is the of the point of this incoherent rant? I think our political culture has a germ of Peron-style populism. Our political history therefore has a great vacuum that is aching to be filled. Some people think the Philippines is long ripe for a class war. We just need someone with a sharp tongue and an ax to grind against the country's privileged. Evita was very good in instilling hate, resentment and indignation. She said that "just as some persons have a special tendency to feel beauty differently and more intensely, than do people in general, and therefore become poets or painters or musicians, I have a special inherent tendency to feel injustice with unusual and painful intensity."

So what if Eva Peron were to be reborn as the wife of a Philippine presidential candidate? Was it Lenin or Trotsky who said something about power just lying on the streets waiting to be picked up?

On second thought, Malacanang doesn't seem to have a good balcony. Well, a populist worth his or her salt can always improvise.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Vote ko 'to!: Kababaihan sa Halalan 2004
The WD 210 class under Prof. Rosalinda Pineda-Ofreneo is holding a forum to discuss the women's agenda in the coming May 2004 elections. Panel speakers are Kalayaan Constantino from Abanse Pinay!; Risa Hontiveros from Akbayan; and Malou Turalde-Jacobe from Gabriela. Former Senator Leticia Ramos -Shahani will be the panel reactor.

Vote ko 'to!: Kababaihan sa Halalan 2004 will be held on 15 March 2004 from 2:00 to 5:00 the conference room of the old CSWCD building.

Here is the tentative program:

Tentative Programme
2:00 - 2:15 - registration and introductions
2:15 - 3:15 - presentations from Abanse Pinay!, Akbayan, and Gabriela
3:15 - 4:00- reaction from former Senator Leticia Ramos-Shahani
4:00 - 4:45 - open forum
4:45 - 5:00 - acknowledgements and closing remarks

Join us and let's all build the women's agenda.

For more information, contact:
Mavic Cabrera-Balleza
Tel: 928-1956 local 204
Mobile: 0917-527-6664

Monday, March 08, 2004

FPJ Superstar
Film 102 section 2 invites you to a symposium on Mr. Fernando Poe, Jr.


From Reel to Real:
Deconstructing Da King

Videotheque, 2nd floor, University Cinema (formerly UP Film Center)
Tuesday, 9 March 2004. 1:00 - 4:00pm

with our speakers

Ms. Rina Jimenez-David
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Dr. Eufracio Abaya
Director, Folklore Studies
College of Social Sciences and Philosophy, UP Diliman

Dr. Patrick Flores
Chair, Department of Art Studies
College of Arts and Letters, UP Diliman

Professor Julkipli MWadi
College Secretary
UP Institute of Islamic Studies

Free admission!
Open to the public. First come, first served.

For more inquiries, text or call
Gayle +639164544114
Neri +639196756281
2005 Asian Youth Fellowship Scholarship of Japan
The 2005 Asian Youth Fellowship Scholarship (AYF) of Japan is now accepting applicants.

Field of Study:

Humanities and Social Sciences in principle, such as History, Archaeology, Law, Politics, Economics, Commerce, Education, Sociology, etc, but students majoring in a study field of Engineering and Natural Sciences are also encouraged to apply.


-- Applicants must be nationals of one of the following countries:

Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand or Vietnam

-- Applicants must be under 35 years of age as of April 1, 2006 (i.e. born on or after April 2, 1971)

-- Applicants must be university or college graduates.

The study area must be in the same field as the applicant has studied (or is now studying) or related one.

-- Applicants should not have Japanese language proficiency. Those who have learned Japanese language and already acquired Japanese proficiency comparable to the Japanese Proficiency Test Level 3 are excluded.

-- Good proficiency in English is required.

Term of Scholarship:

The scholarship will be granted for a period of about 14 months, in principle, from the date of arrival in Kuala Lumpur to March 2006.

After completing the AYF Program, the Japanese Government (Monbukagakusho) scholarship will be granted according to its own regulation.

Required documents may be submitted directly to the library of Japan Information and Cultural Center in the Embassy of Japan, not later than the 16th of April,2004.

Please access the AYF website for more information and to download the application form at

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Ph.D.
Did the president flunk her oral exams but was nevertheless given a Ph.D. degree by the UP School of Economics? The main editorial of the Daily Tribune insinuates so.
Che the revolutionary
The Christian Science Monitor has a short piece on the iconic image of Che Guevara wearing gold-starred black cap, throwing a quixotic gaze toward eternity:

"There's something about Che's face - that iconic image - which seems immediately identifiable to young people of almost any generation and almost any culture," Anderson muses. "It's the virile personification of youthful defiance against the status quo, whatever the status quo is. I don't think the consumption of Che iconography empties the vessel, because it was always thus. But there's been more to learn behind that image."

Apparently, there is a movie on Che Guevara that is coming soon, starring Benicio del Toro. So we can expect more talk--and hopefully more learning behind the image--on Che Guevara in the coming months.
Best Volunteer Experience Essay Writing Contest is having an essay writing contest for volunteers who would like to share their experiences. Click here for more information.

Friday, March 05, 2004

Forging unity
It has often been pointed out by FPJ (and was duly echoed by his supporters) that political debates are unnecesssary because they only heighten the divisiveness of the nation by the candidates' differing positions. Inspired by this political wisdom from the FPJ camp, I have come up with more suggestions, patriotic that I am, on how to further unite the country:

1) Pass a law banning debates. Repeat after FPJ: debates divide the country, debates divide the country...

2) Since clamor for debates heats up during elections, we must consider banning elections altogether, or at least limiting elections to some indispensable positions.

3) Before the country can be united, our officials should be united first.

The legislative debates in our Congress are a gross manifestation of our country's divisiveness. New rules for our Congress therefore must be promulgated to see to it that our legislators are as polite to each other as possible. Differences must be aired not in the sesssion hall, but through staff.

4) Have the Department of Education pass a memorandum requiring the recitation of Isang Bansa, Isang Diwa right after the flag ceremonies in every school.

5) Let us shift to monarchy. In monarchies, the people are united behind the king, because the king, the sovereign, is the people. In a monarchy there is no room for crass debates.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Web prowl
Amy Chua writes on the perils of exporting democracy to Iraq. UP Professor Walden Bello is interviewed by the American magazine ColorLines. The Washington Post has a paean for Google's unchaining of information. Britain's Telegraph reviews Simon Blackburn's short treatise on lust, a pleading in favor of the sin.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Wanted actresses
An international co-production is looking for actresses for an independent film.

The major role requires an actress, at least 18 years old, who can pass off as someone in her early-20's. The actress has to have a light to medium body-build and not taller than 5'5". She has to be adept in communicating in both English and Tagalog. The part is of a street-smart, single-minded dreamer. She's slightly edgy but chameleon-like in that she can make herself invisible. Actress should have the range of someone like Ally Macbeal--she can go from being a quiet observer to an all out looney.

Other supporting roles are for a typical teenage girl and a senior colegiala.

The auditions will be held on March 13 & 14 at 4/F GMA-Lou Bel Bldg., cor. Chino Roces (Pasong Tamo), Bagtikan Sts., Makati City.

For registration and/or questions, please, or call 09209207913.
From senator to bodyguard
Sen Gringo Honasan has undergone a sudden career shift in middle age. His political fortunes have fallen so low that from being an honorable senator of the republic he is now merely a bodyguard for FPJ.

Honasan does not mind the change, Manila Times reports. The Manila Times conveyed this concern to Honasan but he shrugged it off. “I am immensely enjoying my role in securing the future president of the country,” he said.

And why should Honasan not enjoy his present job ? Like Enrile, he is simply hitching his wagon to a star.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Book launching
The Constantino Foundation for Nationalist Studies (FNS) invites you to join the commemoration of the 85th birth anniversary of the late nationalist and historian Renato Constantino. The affair will be marked by a book launching of Roberto Verzola's book entitled "Towards a Political Economy of Information: Studies on the Information Economy."

The event will be held on March 10, 5:00 pm at the University Hotel (formerly PCED) in UP Diliman. For other details, please text or call Kala at 09209084024 or Emily at 372505.
FPJ's sudden exit from Bicol
Did FPJ get such a bad welcome in Bicol that he cancelled further appointments? The sudden departure prevented the action star from attending the rallies scheduled in Virac, Catanduanes, and in Bulan, Sorsogon.

Sen. Sotto said FPJ had an emergency call. There are speculations that the sudden exit could be related to the upcoming decision by the Supreme Court on the disqualification case filed against him.

Monday, March 01, 2004

KNP, we've got a problem here
Today reports how FPJ's campaign flopped in Bicol, notwithstanding the presence of comedian Dolphy, Eddie Gutierrez and Bicolano Eddie Garcia in a motorcade to Santo Domingo, Bacacay, Malilipot and Tabaco City:

One resident said the lukewarm reception that his province mates accorded to the campaigning KNP candidates proved that Poe’s popularity and charisma do not work here.

In broken lines, people took to the streets from this town to Tabaco City, but it appeared that they got out of their homes only to get a glimpse of the actor and the members of his party.

There were those who waved and even cheered, but they were few and far between. One woman in Santo Domingo, upon seeing the passing vehicle of Jinggoy Estrada, even flashed a thumbs-down sign.

Another man also hurled back at Estrada’s party the stickers that were thrown to him.

Poe and the Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino candidates have been wildly cheered and even mobbed by residents in every place and province that they have visited since the start of the campaign, until they came to their sorrow here.